Makeshift Says Goodbye

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I suck at goodbyes.

Let me get this over with: Makeshift is closing doors this month. Our last day is Friday, August 26th.

The first thing people always want to know is why, and the answer to that question is so complicated. Expenses were higher than income and for an old-fashioned storefront business, that’s the kiss of death. I’m not ready to go into it in any greater detail right now, but if you’re business-oriented, here’s a FAQ.

But what else? Makeshift is the fourth brick-and-mortar business I have started in the last 11 years, and the third one I have closed. (Happily, Rare Device is thriving under the care of awesome people.)

Makeshift was a grand experiment; it felt like the culmination of interests that I didn’t even know I had. And then a funny thing happened: it shape-shifted into its true self. I wanted a sunny window seat to read design books in and work on a laptop, a little room to meet with friends or clients, and a tiny loft that you accessed by a vintage library ladder so you could take a nap. And it had all of those things, sure, but that’s just the physical space. Makeshift started as a place and became a community.

A wonderful community! A band of creative people who talked and laughed and pitched ideas to each other and became friends and collaborators. People who shared homemade cookies and threw toys for the dogs and cooed over the babies who came to work next to their moms. People who recommended each other for jobs and edited copy for each others’ Kickstarters and took headshot photos and coded websites. The DNA of Makeshift is now a part of so many other businesses, and I still hear about the successes of our members all the time. Personally, I am still pulling from the network of people I met through this business to help me, every day. That means something.

Last year, my business partner Bryan wrote a far more eloquent goodbye letter when we closed the Brooklyn location. I’m going to keep it short and sweet and just say thank you for supporting us. You’ll see me around town.

Rena

PS Huge love and thanks to Ashley and Nicole who are everything.

 

Member Spotlight: Fabian G. Tabibian

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Meet fine artist, experience director, and makeshift member Fabian Tabibian! A true New Yorker, Fabian was born on 196th and Broadway, raised in Queens, schooled in the Bronx and the city, and lives in Brooklyn. Originally, Fabian was focused on a degree in Econ, but a minor in Studio Art took him on a detour from MBA applications to the MFA program at Hunter College. He’s been focusing oh his studio art practice ever since.

We caught up with Fabian to find out about his work, his fave neighborhood hangouts, and the unique way he memorized the boroughs as a child.

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Walk us through a day in the life of Fabian.

I’m up around 6am and start on the things I want to get done for me by 9am: Stretch, meditate, give gratitude, write, read, make breakfast and lunch, and some kind of fitness activity. When I do this, I feel like the rest of the day is a bonus.

I work three-days a week for an amazing amazing digital education start-up (Zearn.org) as Experience Director. I’m usually focused on one main project for an extended period. The work is big thinking and sweating the details at the same time.

The other two days (and the weekend), I’m focused on my studio work. Since I work predominantly with digital media, I can work most any place — I make work on my laptop when desk bound, on an iPad when standing and walking around (usually at my studio in Greenpoint) or even on my iPhone when riding the subway. I try to steal extra time whenever and however I can to make new things.  I use the studio space to print large works, look at works side-by-side, studio visits, and to crank music loudly.

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What kind of projects are you working on right now?

Current design work is top-secret at the moment. Current artworks are digital abstractions that connect with painting more than photography. The source or starting images for these works are found by hacking my computer and seeing what files the internet has left behind from a days worth of use (thank you, internet!)

What’s your favorite thing about working from Makeshift?

The vibe! It feels like working at an arts library — which is one of my favorite places to make work!

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Where’s your favorite spot in the neighborhood to wind down after work?

The backyard at Spuyten Duyvil with a book in-hand, or Roebling Sporting Club if a good game is on.

Share a funny childhood memory with us.

I remember learning about all the neighborhoods in the Boroughs by the infamous murders that occurred at each locale — this is more funny weird than funny haha. It’s a much safer town now!

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Do you have some life advice you’d you like to share?

I sometimes snip quotes, this was today’s find:

“…it is always better to do something one feels good about than something that may make us materially comfortable but emotionally miserable. Such decisions arenotoriously difficult and require great honesty with oneself.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Thanks Fabian! If you ever see him walking around Williamsburg, be sure to say hi and ask him for a good book recommendation.

Member Spotlight: Matt Beale and Cory Forsyth

This Member Spotlight post features the newest small team to join Makeshift Society. Say hello to Matt Beale and Cory Forsyth, the duo behind 201-Created.  Long time friends, Matt and Cory quit their full time jobs in 2012 and started their own company.

We caught up with them to find out what they’re working on, why they work from our space, and how they’re doing their part to contribute to the whole point of the internet: sharing cat pictures.

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How did you two start working together?

Cory: We’ve been friends through the Ruby (programming language) and NYC technology community for many years. I think we first got to know each other when a company I had started (called outside.in, no longer around) hosted programmer happy hours in our offices in Dumbo. Over the years Matt and I collaborated on some small side projects and stayed in touch. In 2012 we started talking about wanting to work together in earnest as freelancers. It took about 6 months to find the right opportunity, when neither of us had a full-time job any longer, to join forces. We’ve been working together and slowly growing and formalizing our company ever since.  We hired our first full-time employee this June!

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Can you tell us about any interesting projects you’ve been working on lately?

Matt: Absolutely. This summer we’re working with Bustle’s great tech team here in Williamsburg. Most of the work will be on their content editing experience, using HTML5 and JavaScript to improve the collaboration between authors and editors. The code will be largely open source. We work hard to find clients ready to leverage community as much as code, and use our active roles in the JavaScript and OSS world as part of our pitch.

Some other recent work has been on the Nest store, and with our friends at Aptible. On the side, we’re constantly contributing to Ember.js and other projects. We try to balance technical contributions with community ones, and besides commits we also published a community survey and raised over a thousand dollars with our first Coding for Causes program.

Cory: In the spring we worked on a project with conservationists in east Africa to build an interface for them to upload photos of lions that then uses facial recognition software to help them track the lions as they move through different regions. It’s been said that the internet was built to enable sharing of cat pictures; we’re trying to do our part.

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What do you enjoy about working from makeshift?

Cory: The pleasant atmosphere is great for working. It’s not quiet as a tomb, but not distractingly loud either. Makeshift has all the productivity benefits of a coffee shop without the drawbacks. Well, it doesn’t have coffee, but that’s actually a benefit too. There are plenty of great cafés around the space that are easy to walk to. One of my favorite things about Makeshift’s space is that it really encourages creativity by making it easy to get up and move around. The location is a big, airy, bright area right on street level, on a nice quiet street, which makes it very easy to get up and get out for a quick walk outside to clear one’s head. A quick afternoon walk around the block to pick up a coffee and maybe a cookie is a great way to reinvigorate my creativity in the afternoon. Other co-working spaces that I’ve worked at are on high floors and I have to pack up my computer in my backpack before I can get outside, which makes it subtly harder to get up and move around. At Makeshift I can just get up, walk around, and get right back to work.

Matt:For my afternoon americano a favorite spot is Parlor Coffee’s popup, inside the Person of Interest barber shop. Another favorite close by is Oslo Coffee Roasters on Roebling.

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What’s a philosophy you live by?

Matt:We believe writing software is a creative practice, and strive to make the most of the few million lines each we will each write in a career. This means a continued investment in learning, constant collaboration with the open source community, and plenty of time off to recharge!

Cory:The best type of work also has an element of play in it. I’m happiest and feel most productive when I’m learning while I’m working.

Be sure to stop by on sunny mornings to say hi to Matt and Cory. And ask Matt for some awesome music recommendations!

Bk Mag Culture issue launch

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Bk Mag recently took over our space to celebrate their most recent issue, the annual Culture Issue.  The magazine features a timeline exploring Brooklyn’s evolving culture from past to present, an in-depth interview with Noah Baumbach, and insights into the current art, music, and food scene of the borough.

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In the early evening, party goers swarmed in, snagged a Sapporo, and milled about. While some were flipping through the magazine, others were cheesing with giant flowers, and some were swaying to the DJ Colin Ilgen from Newton Radio.  

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Our lower level was occupied by the Haiku Guys. Attendees suggested themes to inspire the writers, and everyone left with a custom Haiku.

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Celebrate your next big event with us! We have an inspiring and flexible layout that can accommodate all kinds of special events. Stop in for a tour or get in touch for more information. Special preference given to people who bring reflective balloons!

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International Coworking Day

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Makeshift is a community of architects, illustrators, designers, typographers, jewelers, makers, coders and creatives of all kinds. In honor of International Coworking Week, we’re opening our doors for free on Friday, August 8th. Just bring your laptop and a cup of coffee and spend the day working in either of our beautiful, light filled clubhouses. Space is limited, so RSVP for Brooklyn or for San Francisco, and quick!